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Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

Warren Buffett once famously said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” And in today’s customer-focused business economy and competitive landscape, one of the quickest ways to demise is by not focusing on your customers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 20% of small businesses fail within just one year of business operation. And within five years, 50% of all small businesses fail. One of the biggest reasons businesses are failing during these critical infancy stages is that they’re doing whatever they can to grow revenue without taking a slow-and-steady approach to building a relationship with those customers. In fact, 14% of all the businesses that failed went under because they ignored their customers.

Too many potentially great companies have fallen to the wayside because they lacked this understanding. According to a study from New Voice Media, companies are losing $62 billion annually due to poor customer service. Here’s the truth about how reviews can impact your business:

Reviews Influence Sales: Statistics

The popularity of online reviews has skyrocketed over the past couple years. More people than ever are doing research and analyzing a wealth of information before they make a purchase. Here are some statistics you should think about when you start forming your customer service team and principles:

  • 97% say customer reviews play a role in their buying decisions
  • 92% of consumers hesitate to make a purchase if there are no customer reviews
  • 32% say written reviews are the one element that makes them believe a site’s reviews are relevant/useful
  • 73% say written reviews make more of an impression on them than star/number ratings
  • 94% typically read written reviews
  • 35% say one negative review can make them decide not to buy

Manage Your Reviews

It’s important for every business to manage their reviews and take them seriously. Keep in mind that Yelp and Google Reviews aren’t the only review platforms out there, and you should get your business signed up for other review curation tools, too. This could also help improve your SEO efforts. For example, Incfile company reviews on ShopperApproved demonstrate how the business is being rated across several categories, including customer service, product satisfaction, and price satisfaction. Platforms like ShopperApproved, Angie’s List, and Influenster are also great review sites to pay attention to.

Negative Review Responses Matter

Google will rarely take action to remove a negative review, no matter how unfair the review may seem to you. The only time Google-or other review platforms-removes a negative review is if it specifically violates their terms. With that in mind, it would be a fruitless attempt to spend time trying to get rid of a bad review by going over the reviewer’s head.

The best way to offset a negative review is to respond to it. No matter how great your product or service is, there’s always going to be someone who is dissatisfied for some reason. How you respond to those negative reviews is what matters. About 37% of customers are happy when the company offers something of monetary value, such a refund, store credit, or free items. However, when a monetary reward is coupled with a sincere apology, that number doubles.

For example, let’s say one of your employees was having a bad day and didn’t provide the best service to a customer, and that customer complains online. In addition to offering a solution, be sure to apologize for their bad experience and detail how you’re handling the situation internally. Remember: other people are looking at your reviews and seeing how you handle negative feedback and complaints. A silent company is a negligent company in the eyes of the consumer.

Even better is that responding to reviews-whether negative or positive-can actually have a positive impact on your SEO. According to Google, “high-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location.”

Utilize Customer Service Software

Training your team well helps keep them confident in the product and service, and also helps create a good company culture. One way to make their jobs easier is to utilize the right customer service software.

Customer service plays a huge role in the business feedback process. On average, one happy customer brings in 9 new referrals. Furthermore, roughly 86% of consumers are willing to pay more for a better customer service experience. And lastly, furthermore, for every customer who complains, there are 26 customers who say nothing.

Customer service software is a great preventative measure to curb potentially negative reviews. Some great software options to consider include ZenDesk, Freshdesk, and Zoho.